Ellen Lockhart, Musicology, University of Toronto
Room 215, 80 Queen’s Park
Lecture: Lupus tonalis
This paper addresses shifting conceptions of “nature” and “the natural” in London in the decades immediately around 1800. My point of departure is the fact that the acoustic phenomenon that we now call beat tones or combination tones -- long known to instrument tuners as well as theorists of temperament as the harsh howling sound emitted by slightly imperfect perfect intervals -- came, in the 1780s, to be known as “the wolf”. I consider the speciation of this acoustic wolf alongside discourses surrounding the animal canis lupus (i.e., also “the wolf”), which had long been eradicated from the wild in the British Isles but which was amply represented in London’s menageries, as well as its fiction and its publications for amateur naturalists. Together, I suggest, these two wolves—one bio-material, the other sonic—form an instance of what Donna Haraway calls “figures”: that is, “material-semiotic nodes or knots in which diverse bodies and meanings co-shape one another.” My objective is to gain insight into one of the era’s supposed great shifts—recently reinvigorated by a surge of ecomarxist literature on the Anthropocene—that becoming modern entailed a reconfiguration of the relationship of the social to the natural.
After receiving her PhD from Cornell University in 2011, Ellen Lockhart (University of Toronto) became a postdoctoral fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts at Princeton University. Her monograph Animation, Plasticity, and Music in Italy, 1770-1830 was published in October 2017 by the University of California Press, receiving an AMS 75 book subvention; with James Davies (UCBerkeley) she co-edited a volume on music and science in London during the period 1798-1851, published by the University of Chicago Press. Her critical edition of Puccini’s “Wild West opera” La fanciulla del West will be published by Ricordi, and had its premiere at La Scala in 2016 under the baton of Riccardo Chailly; she is also co-editing (with David Rosen) a critical edition of the original mise-en-scène. She is General Editor of the Cambridge Opera Journal.